How to Organize A Festival Without Previous Knowledge

Five people and one crazy idea.

Do you remember those days and nights? Daydreaming and nightwakening, about things that sound insanely great and greatly insane? A couple of people maybe, who let their thoughts spread through the room, like waterdrops sprinkling into every direction caused by a heavy object dropping onto a calm surface. You phantasized about ifs and coulds and woulds. And eventually ordered the next drink, cause who the hell would be crazy enough to go through with it?

The Idea

PsychOlympia – basically olympic psychology games – was the idea of bringing together a group of students at a campground, an event of competing in different sports, psychological or simply fun games, of spending a weekend together getting to know wonderful people in a cozy atmosphere, basically the idea of a mini festival. Having been an extraordinary experience I wanna write about as well as for sharing the process with those who are interested – here’s what happened.

img_6785Well. After our idea has been born already two years ago, first steps finally succeeded and we decided to do it November last year. The five of us who eventually organized this thing come from Bielefeld, Osnabrück, Hamburg and Magdeburg, we are in bachelor’s or master’s programs in Psychology or statistics, we’re all in our 20-somethings and working in our local student unions, we enjoy and participate in the semiannual nationwide conference of psychology student unions, which is also how we met. We were like, sure, we’re in, let’s do it! And the adventure began. At that point, we actually might have had a drink or two already, and none of us expected or even had the slightest idea what we just committed to. But commitment, that’s exactly what happened. I mean, none of us had any previous experience of project management or organizing a 200 people event. It was us talking to each other and figuring out together what makes sense and what we have to take care of.

Yeah, commitment. Honestly, looking at all the presentation and work and organization groups I was part of in my life, in school, work and university contexts, I have never experienced such a well functioning complementary and yet fun group of people. Quickly, strangers became friends and friends became close friends. We started spending our free time together. In a way, each of us brought their own unique quality into the group, and still I’d say we all own the same crazy spark in our minds. In short, this whole thing wouldn’t have worked out if just one of us was missing.

The Process

2016-04-10-16-33-31-1So we started skyping roughly once a week, dividing different tasks among us. One was responsible for all the bills and payments and the general cost estimation. One did all the communication with the campground, another organized the sponsoring, someone communicated with all the participants, helpers and interested to answer questions, one took care of social media, website and design. Together, we decided how many people were able to come, how big the teams were going to be, what games were going to be played, and each of us wrote the specific rules for these. We were figuring out what we wanted to invest in – quality or quantity – and what we wanted to be able to provide for everyone.

In April and May, we came together twice to review the campground that we chose and work out details like entertainment and general program. We designed information material and entry bracelets and eventually calculated, how much we could afford regarding the number of people that actually signed up. We acquired helpers that were absolutely essential for the success of the whole event. We informed the locals about our planned party, took care of insurance and first aid and had to find a way how throughout the day each of the 20 teams could complete each station at a different time slot. We ordered and bought and borrowed all the things needed for the games and the event in general, found tables and benches and light and music system that we could borrow. We brought a lot of our private stuff like coffee makers and water boilers and pavilions and music boxes and tableware and toys. We paid everything in advance with our private money, several thousands of Euros. And thought about how we get all that stuff safely from A to B. We dealt with single people or even whole teams as well as helpers who canceled last minute and figured out a way to still make it work. We thought about a plan B in case of bad weather. We hoped that the participants were all understanding people who wouldn’t party too long and would leave the campground clean in the end. After all, PsychOlympia took place in a 300-people village in the middle of nowhere, known for its theologic college and its christian children and youth campground. Haha.

And that’s the Result

Being At Ease

Looking back to the moment of deciding for the event to this feeling now… there was no way to expect how this would all work out and how much work was actually connected to it. Now, I’m sitting in a train, traveling high-speed through a green sunny landscape, and reflecting on the past weeks and months. Not only this – for my terms – huge event has been on my mind, but also moving out of my apartment in Hamburg and writing my bachelor’s thesis which, as I just learned, is going to be published soon. This is so fucking crazy. All this work, that started a year ago when my friends pushed my wheelchair through Berlin, will actually serve as an important finding and was worth all the pain that came with it. Up to date I’ve never really been able to acknowledge what I have accomplished in the last months, without wanting to sound conceited in any way. Now that I’m going to leave Hamburg, my first and 4 years long home away from home, and will restart in Frankfurt and who knows where, and close this gigantic chapter of my life with a smile – I finally realize where I am.

 

2016-06-21-15-19-31This incredible moment when you realize how much crazy shit you’ve done, how much planning, working and organizing paid off just perfectly and are able to just let go for a moment. To throw your bike, on which you were speeding through the last weeks, onto the ground and let yourself drop into the endless green and blue of a summer day, and let your thoughts wander boundlessly.

How to Organize A Festival Without Previous Knowledge
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